Charlie Elphicke MP writes ...
Campaigning for fair share of healthcare in Dover and Deal
The building of the new Buckland Hospital was all about bringing more
services to Dover. The new £24 million state-of-the-art facility would stop
people having to make long journeys out of town to Ashford, Canterbury or
Therefore, I am extremely disappointed and frustrated about the recent removal
of a vital eye treatment service. It’s simply not on – and I’m doing
everything I can to bring it back to Buckland.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), where older people start to lose their
eyesight, was treated at Buckland by injecting medication into the eye through a
very fine needle. No-one likes to think of their mum or dad or grandparents
having to go through a procedure like this. Particularly when it has to be
repeated on a monthly basis.
Yet, until recently, at least Dovorians were able to be treated down the road at
Buckland. Now the service has been withdrawn, these older patients with waning
eyesight are forced to make long and difficult journeys to Ashford or
Canterbury. These patients, often in their 80s or 90s, are desperate to get home
to rest after having the injections. Yet for those relying on public transport,
it takes hours to get back to Dover. And some older people have to take these
The NHS is there for us all – but particularly for the most vulnerable in
society. That’s why the decision to remove this eye treatment from Buckland is
an extremely bad one. Particularly as a new cataract theatre is now operating.
Plus, there were 3,000 ophthalmology clinics at Buckland last year, so there is
clearly high demand. I’m pressing the local Clinical Commissioning Group and
our hospital trust to urgently bring the AMD treatment back to Dover.
I will also be asking them why Buckland is not yet offering the anti-coagulant,
phlebotomy and specialist elderly care services we were promised. When the
hospital opened in 2015, health chiefs said we’d have 60,000 appointments a
year. Yet two years on, 29% of the hospital remains unused. There is so much
potential for Buckland and I’m determined to see it fully realised.
Of course, we must not forget how far we have come thanks to years of
campaigning and hard work. In Deal, our much-loved hospital was left on the
brink. Now we are getting more services – and staff numbers are up 17% on last
year. At Buckland, twice as many clinics are now operating than when it first
opened. What’s more, a new £2.4 million project to provide extra GP services
starts next month, working out of ten rooms across Buckland and Deal Hospital.
They will be open 8am to 8pm, seven days a week – meaning more people can be
We are finally getting a fairer share of healthcare. Yet health chiefs need to
see sense, deliver the services we were promised – and bring the eye treatment
back to Buckland